Maureen Pratt

Maureen Pratt

I call it “complete spring cleaning in deep midwinter,” and it is at the top of the list of things I want to accomplish in 2017. Not so much a resolution as a much-needed project, this super heading has beneath it many long-overdue tasks.

Those catch-all drawers? Find out what’s really in them (and what I can toss or donate). The bookshelves with a combination of “haven’t read” and “did read, but …” volumes? Peruse and purge or read, read, read. The kitchen cupboards holding gadgets whose uses I’ve yet to figure out? Use or lose.

Yes, I even want to shampoo my carpets! And now into my third week of working on it, I think I’m on my way to a neater nest.

At the beginning of each year, I usually put together a list of activities or achievements that I want to work toward. I revisit the list during the year. Sometimes, I can cross off several of the items, and sometimes none.


This year, I decided to be prepared and territorial, with my aim to complete my big project and possibly a few smaller ones. To get ready, I set up a centrally located area for boxes and bags for clothing and other articles that I can donate to others whom I am sure can use them. I deposit items as I find them, eliminating much of the wavering that otherwise occurs.

I’ve placed cleaning supplies throughout, so I don’t have the excuse of “but I’d have to go into the kitchen and dig out the detergent.” And I have a fresh box of liners for my shredder and various trash cans and a hard copy of the local recycling center’s hours of operation.

Instead of “all or nothing,” I focus on one room and one area of the room at a time, giving myself a month per room. This way, I won’t look at a particular space in mid-month and think, “I’ll never get this done!” (I have far fewer rooms than months in the year, so I have allowed myself a lot of leeway.)

Each day, little by little, I’m making progress and sometimes I find that I end up making headway in another room, too. Consistent attention to my big project is bringing a sense of accomplishment already, and reacquainting me with the joy of better-feathering the nest.

My approach to this year’s activity could, I think, be applied to other major life resolutions.

Want to lose weight? Take it pound by pound, and make it convenient to eat better or exercise more often. Need to save more money? The loose change, including dollar bills, when put aside can add up in a hurry.

More intangible resolutions can benefit from a little organization, too.


Desire a deeper connection with our faith? Take a small prayerbook or Bible along throughout the day, reading from it and letting the words sink in. Add the Catholic News Service app to your smartphone and read the latest news from a Catholic perspective.

Resolve to engage in one faith-based conversation, however brief, each day. Those days and devotions build one upon the other, forming consistency and strength.

Relationship building, job searching, spiritual discernment — any of these and more can be achieved or encouraged by gathering a few necessary tools and moving along inch by inch, moment by moment.

My list of yearly projects guides me as I approach each year. I tend not to get stressed over what I do not achieve, but more grateful and happy for what I am able to accomplish. And this year, when my carpets are clean, well, that will be cause for celebration!